Daily Practice: Index Card a Day 2014 (ICAD)

Posted on Jun 1, 2014 in Pattern, Sketchbook | One Comment

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Hello! It’s starting to feel like summer here in Portland. Sunny skies (sometimes), longer days, and farmers markets are some of my favorite parts of summer. I also love packing up a little bag and finding a sunny place outside to sketch. For the next two months, I’m going to be including a small stack of index cards in my bag.

I’ve been busy with school projects, but I haven’t been doing much personal work lately, so I’m excited to get into the Index Card a Day challenge, starting today. I can’t say enough good things about the content that Tammy puts out into the world, and I really admire the way that she organizes this challenge, and inspires so many people to start small, and build a consistent creative practice. You can find out more about the challenge at her FAQ page. Essentially, the idea is to create something out of an index card every day in June and July. Easy, right?

The index cards in this post are a few that I made last summer while I worked on this challenge. There are lots of reasons why I love working in this way.

  • Index cards are CHEAP. Using index cards takes the intimidation factor out of creating art. Made a mistake? No big deal. Toss out your index card and start again. Or, cut it up and make something new out of it.
  • 3 x 5 inch index cards are small. Five minutes is enough time to finish a card and feel good about spending part of your day being creative.
  • Using cheap and small index cards is good for experimentation with other materials. I’ve wanted to work with gouache for a while, but haven’t put much effort into it. I’ve also had a Gel Printing plate that has gone unused for over a year. This will be a perfect time to experiment.
  • A commitment to working on a daily project makes you feel motivated to make more work. I often find that a challenge like this creates a snowball effect, and I end up working on more projects.

I’ll be posting my cards on Instagram somewhat daily, and will do a weekly wrap up here on the blog. You can follow along or contribute on Instagram or Twitter using #icad.

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Making and Meaning

Posted on Apr 4, 2014 in Life | 2 Comments

I should probably write a long list of excuses to explain why it’s been so long since I’ve posted here, but instead I’m going to write about my green bowl.

In 2007, I went to Hawaii for a Christmas vacation with my family. The whole family. My dad, his girlfriend and her kids, my sister, aunt, uncle, cousins. That was the first time we’d ever done something like that together, and the trip was warm, magical and absolutely paradise. Out of everything I’ve done in my life, that would easily make the top five. One of the days we were there, I drove to Hilo with my sister and cousin. We ended up finding a small market that wasn’t as touristy as the markets on the other side of the island. One of the vendors made beautiful ceramic pieces, and I fell in love with a green bowl. I loved the simplicity of the design, and the green reminded me of how lush Hawaii was. At the same market, I bought the most perfect papaya and ate it right there. I was so happy.

I had used this bowl for oatmeal, cereal, soups and salads multiple times a week ever since. I liked the feel of the bowl in my hands. It was a little off center, and the glaze on the rim was imperfect. Every time I used the bowl I either got comfort from using something I loved so much, or I thought of the place and time that I bought it. It made meals special. I speak of the bowl in past tense because tonight I dropped the bowl (full of delicious taco seasoned quinoa with scrambled eggs and veggies, made by my amazing boyfriend) and broke it into pieces. Pulling little bits of the bowl out of quinoa splattered all over the floor was definitely the lowest point of this week. I cried over the pieces of this bowl. And not little sniffling tears, but sobbing, streaming tears.

After I pulled myself together (somewhat), I started to reflect on objects and the meaning they have in my life. This bowl made a special memory tangible. Experiences are so fleeting, but having this bowl made that experience part of my everyday life. I bet the woman who made that bowl never would have thought it would still be so important to someone almost seven years later. If I could put even one thing out in the world that could do the same for someone else, that would make me so happy. This is why making things is important to me.

At some point I’ll post another update and write about some exciting changes in my life. For now, I’m going to try to glue that bowl back together and see if it can be salvaged as a decorative piece. Wish me luck… :)

Collage and The Terrible, No Good Art Block

Posted on May 7, 2013 in Links, Sketchbook | 10 Comments

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Hello again! I’m back for Glue it Tuesday with a collage that’s been coming together on my desk for the past couple of weeks. I took the cover of one of our weekly newspapers and have been cutting all of the solid bits out of it and sticking a few pieces down here and there. I don’t often collage with pictures or patterns created by someone else (it’s hard to make it feel like mine), so I get really excited when I find a cover or illustration page that has a lot of big blocks of color I can use.

I have been feeling very uninspired lately, and have had a hard time getting myself to work in my sketchbooks, write blog entries or work on projects for my printmaking class. It’s been difficult to push through it and have faith that I will have new ideas again. I’m trying to find the right balance of being gentle with myself, but also to not be so lax that I slip into a bad habit of not working on projects because I’m “waiting for inspiration”. Projects like this sketchbook collage page are perfect because they don’t require too much thinking, and it’s more about the physical act of cutting and gluing than it is about the end product.

Here is a small collection of links that have provided me with some inspiration to keep going over the past week. If you’re looking for some more reading, check out Tammy’s fantastic Link Love mission. I’m hoping that I’ll be back soon with some notes on how I broke through my creative block!

Link Love

Posted on Apr 22, 2013 in Links | 2 Comments

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Happy Monday! Last week was a quiet one, and my sketchbooks were left untouched. I’m on a quest to make sure my sketchbooks feel the love again this week. I’m also joining in Tammy’s mission to share the link love at Daisy Yellow. I’ve found loads of inspiration to start off the week, and now it’s time to turn off the computer and get to it.

  • I just discovered Mae Chevrette’s blog today, and was particularly inspired by this sketchbook page. The combination of collage and lettering is lovely.
  • I’m a little bummed out that this blog appears to have been abandoned. I am a big fan of to-do lists, and these painted lists are probably the most charming I’ve ever seen. Enjoy the archives!
  • Another fun blog by Alison Worman. I’m so inspired by how she uses a wide variety of media. Fiber arts, book arts, printmaking, painting, drawing, collage. I love artists who are so versatile.
  • I love this crayon transfer technique tutorial by Marcia Beckett. I used to do this as a child, and totally forgot about it. I’m excited to try this technique again!
  • I’m really intrigued Heather Day’s loose painting style. I love her little tiny drawings and paintings. Her blog has inspired me to try to loosen it up a little this week.

I hope you all had a great weekend, and are full of ideas for the new week. I would love to hear what you’re working on in the comments!

Glue it Tuesday: Printmaking Color Tests

Posted on Apr 16, 2013 in Pattern, Sketchbook | 13 Comments

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Good morning! I’m joining in Glue it Tuesday this week with some color tests for my printmaking class. I created a few linoleum blocks with simple textures, and my plan is to tear them all up and sew them back together for the final project. I brought the blocks home with me, and worked on some color tests tonight. I’m not thrilled with this color combination yet, but I do like seeing the simple textures next to each other in different colors. I was trying out burnishing with my hands (placing paper over the linoleum and rubbing), and really liked how personal it made the process feel, as opposed to using the press. I can see the areas where I pressed very hard, and those I backed off of a bit.

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These are the prints I made on the press on Saturday. This chartreuse color is one of my favorites, and I am always happy when I work with it. I can’t wait to get started cutting up and assembling these prints back together.

Sometimes it’s hard to feel okay writing about color and sketchbooks after a day like yesterday. I initially felt a tinge of guilt even working on my prints last night. I think the only thing I can figure out to do is to try to be more grateful, continue to do the things that make me come alive, and try to do more good in the world. I’m grateful for this space, for being able to share the things that make me happy, and for the encouragement from you, my lovely readers.

Link Love // Shadows and Patterns #1

Posted on Apr 12, 2013 in Links, Pattern, Portland | 5 Comments

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I’m hoping that soon Portland will be getting enough sun for me to make a small series of photographs of shadows and patterns. These are from a couple of weekends ago when the weather was warm, and I was taking some walks through the neighborhood. The sky here is flat gray a lot of the fall and winter, so the shadows were a pleasant shock. I seemed to find an interesting shadow or pattern everywhere I turned.

This weekend I have a printmaking class all day Saturday, and the weather forecast tells me we’re in for another gray weekend, so I’ll be getting caught up on my Project Life scrapbook pages, and some other artsy projects on Sunday.

I’m participating in Tammy’s wonderful Link Love mission today, and leaving you with some links to check out over the weekend. Stop by Daisy Yellow to say hello, or join in spreading the link love.

  • Emily Balsley’s Sketchbook Project: Emily’s sketchbook project is a wonderful little narrative about a sandwich making factory. Her illustrations are so fun. See also part 2.
  • Create Every Day by Kari Maxwell: This blog is one of my new reads. Kari always has wonderful insights on the creative process, daily art practices and more.
  • Interview with Oliver Jeffers on The Great Discontent: TGD is one of my favorite sites to read interviews. The interviews are very in depth and feature a wide variety of makers, and (bonus!) are presented beautifully. Oliver Jeffers is a relatively new discovery for me, but I’ve seen his work pop up on a couple of blogs lately, so I was very excited to see an interview with him. This video about his work is also a very charming visual treat.
  • Flora Bowley’s 30-Day Blog Love Affair: I love Flora’s mission to blog daily, and reinvent her relationship with her blog. From her latest blog posts, it looks like it’s working!
  • Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: If you are ever feeling down, this blog is the place to go. I dare you to not feel happier after reading about these kittens.

I hope you have a wonderful, creative weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Less Mess! (WOYWW)

Posted on Apr 10, 2013 in Life, Sketchbook | 8 Comments

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More important than what is on my workdesk this week, is what isn’t on my workdesk this week. I finally went to Ikea on Saturday to pick up a matching bookcase to put next to my desk, and was able to stash the pile of art supplies and papers that was on my desk. I’m very excited that my desk is usable again, and as a bonus, it looks prettier too! Today I’m linking up to What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday at Stamping Ground .

I started a new printmaking class on Saturday. It’s a mixed class of Printmaking I and Printmaking II students. As one of the Printmaking II students, I have absolute freedom in the projects I work on for the quarter, and can make up my own assignments. I always thought that would be a blessing, but now I’m sitting here with empty sketchbook pages wondering what to do with myself. I think I need to come up with some limitations because the wide openness has so far resulted in not a lot of ideas.

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I live in a small apartment with my boyfriend, two dogs and a cat, so I feel very lucky to have this corner of the main living space to call my own. My desk is set up in the area that probably should hold a dining room table. It is right off of the kitchen, which is perfect for clean up and getting cups of tea. A TV tray and rolling cart expand my work area beyond the small desktop. The TV tray is good for holding cups of water and paint because it’s off to the side and doesn’t get in the way.

I always love peeks at artwork in studios, so I thought I’d share what’s up in mine right now. The TV tray is hand painted by my friend Carolyn O’Connor, who takes old furniture and gives it new life again with her brightly colored designs. The little bunting above my desk is by Robyn Wells. She has one of my favorite little eclectic shops on Etsy. The top print of the two on the wall is by Jessica Swift. The bottom print on the wall is Artist-in-Bloom Manifesto by Aimee at Artsyville. There is a tiny painting by Sherry Paylor on the right side of the top of my desk. I got it from an Art-o-Mat machine this weekend. You can get a better view of it on Instagram. And lastly, the painting to the right of the sewing machine is one of mine. It’s a study of a Richard Diebenkorn painting that I made in one of my painting classes. I have a ton of prints that are unframed, and now that I have all of the furniture situated, I’m looking forward to putting more artwork on the walls.

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This is how the space looks all closed up! Lately this has been a pretty infrequent occurrence, but now that my desk is clear I can close it up more easily. A more seasoned blogger probably would have swept up the dog hair before taking the picture, so please ignore that. This is real life. :) I hope you have a very creative and colorful Wednesday!

Sketchbook Doodles: Glue it Tuesday

Posted on Apr 9, 2013 in Sketchbook | 11 Comments

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Hello! I’m popping in today to share some of my doodles for Aimee’s Glue it Tuesday. Check out her blog to see her colorful work, and links to others participating in Glue it Tuesday. I’m not feeling particularly inspired this week. I think it has to do with the gray skies and rain returning after a lovely week with warm spring weather. Sometimes when I’m feeling the artistic blahs, I will do something really simple to try to get back in the flow. I’m not there yet, but I will keep trying! Thanks to all who came over to visit from Artsyville!

Finding Magic

Posted on Apr 5, 2013 in Color Stories, Links | 8 Comments

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Sometimes a few days can pass by, one day blending into the next. Nothing special, nothing to recall. And then sometimes, something magic will happen. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice it. If you’re smart, you’ll capture it as a reminder that beauty is always just around the corner.

This was what was waiting for me when I got home from work today. The petals fell off of the trees while I was gone, and the asphalt in front our apartment was so evenly covered. It looked like a blanket of confetti, or a polka dotted parking lot. I was so happy to have been there in that moment.

Speaking of magic… do you remember when blogs were new, and we were all so closely intertwined through blog posts and link lists? Tammy from Daisy Yellow is on a mission to revive link love! She has proposed that we commit to sharing at least five links four times in April. There is so much beauty and magic out there, so let’s share it!

Head over to Daisy Yellow if you’d like to join in the link love! I’d also love to hear about unexpected magic you’ve found this week in the comments!

33 Things I Want To Do in Year 33: April Update

Posted on Apr 4, 2013 in Life, Lists | 3 Comments

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I’m now exactly six months into my 33rd year, and I’m revisiting my list of 33 Things I Want To Do in Year 33. My last update was in December, and I need to make revisiting the list a monthly commitment because there hasn’t been much forward movement with the list in the last four months. I am proud of the things that I have completed so far, and in particular I’m happy with the progress I’ve made in rebuilding strength in my ankle and walking the 5K. I’m looking forward to a productive April!

Completed!
02. Walk a 5K – I finished the Shamrock Stride 5K in Portland on March 17. I’m considering training for a 5K run in September. (blog post)
05. Take an Indian or Japanese cooking class – I finished a one night class on March 4. East Indian Cooking: Curry, Herbs and Spices. The food was so fresh and healthy tasting. I came home with lots of spices, but haven’t attempted anything on my own. I should do that soon…
06. Take a printmaking class – I finished Printmaking I at PCC in the winter quarter. I loved it so much that I signed up for Printmaking II, and that starts this Saturday. (Projects: one, two, three, four)

In process…
16. Join or create a sketchbook or artists meetup group – I went to a crafting meetup group at the end of March, and I’m RSVPed to another meetup in April. I’d still like to find a sketchbook specific meetup group.
18. Finish two art journals – I have filled in about 80% of my small Moleskine sketchbook, and have started a second Moleskine sketchbook. I have also filled up three small sketchbooks with daily patterns since the beginning of the year.
21. Save $X – Still working on this one steadily, and making good progress.
31. Cook 20 new recipes – 1/20 completed. I made up a soup using random vegetables. The main components were potatoes, bell pepper and onions. I’m feeling really uninspired and in a cooking rut. I need to pick out a few recipes to try this month.

Next steps to be completed in April
01. Walk over seven Portland bridges – I’m going to pick one of the bridges to walk over on a nice day.
07. Back up all of my digital photos – This was on my December list, and I made no progress. I’d like to finish this in April. I’d be very sad if something happened to my computer right now.
10. Unpack all boxes from our move in January – This is so sad. We still have some boxes with books and paperwork, 15 months after our move. I really need to buy a new bookcase this month.
15. Go to Astoria or Bend for a long weekend with boyfriend – I’d like to do this, or plan it in April. Our schedules are full with work and my Saturday class, and his theater schedule, so it’s hard to find a weekend.
17. Start classes at PSU – I still haven’t filled out the application, and need to do that this month.

Pending
03. Take a mud bath in New Zealand
04. Try indoor rock climbing
08. Submit artwork to Art-o-mat
09. Make a quilt
11. Learn how to use Wacom tablet
12. Go camping with my sister
13. Make french onion soup
14. [Private goal]
19. Buy a zoo membership, and sketch the animals
20. Sell a piece of artwork
22. Take a soapmaking class
23. Make a collaborative sketchbook with another artist
24. Try yoga
25. [Private goal]
26. Make a new girl friend in Portland
27. Open an Etsy shop
28. Go on a short trip somewhere in the U.S. by myself (or to visit a friend)
29. Build a portfolio website
30. Buy a bike and ride somewhere with my sister
32. See Crater Lake
33. Go to OMSI After Dark